Key stats since 2000 (19 tournaments):
- Seeded players have won each of the last 19 tournaments, 18 were in the top nine and 13 from the top-four.
- 30 of the 33 finalists have been seeded.
- The top seed has reached at least the semis in 13, the final in 10 and won eight times.
- The Australian Open winner has reached at least the 4thRound in 10 of the last 11 tournaments, reaching the semi-finals in nine, the final in seven and won six.
Such has been dominance of Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal at this tournament, they have won 13 of the 15 titles between them since 2004.
The only other winners have been Ivan Ljubicic (2010) and Juan Martin del Potro (2018) and although the Argentinian won’t be defending his title this year, while Ljubicic now sits in Federer’s camp, we still have the three big guns playing at very competitive levels.
Novak Djokovic has 28 victories from his last 29 matches on his favourite outdoor hard-court surface and is deserved of his favouritism. He’s joined by showboaters Gael Monfils and Nick Kyrgios who have both found recent form with the Frenchmen winning in Rotterdam and reaching the last four in Dubai.
Meanwhile, the Aussie won the Mexican Open in Acapulco, beating the likes of Nadal, Stan Wawrinka, John Isner and Alexander Zverev during this title run, so would make for a tricky third round opponent for the Serb.
The bottom-half of the quarter could see Borna Coric and Nikoloz Basilashvili meet in the third round in a repeat of their recent Dubai quarter-final match, which the Croat won.
That looks a nice path for them with the winner likely to cruise into the Quarters with both Gilles Simon or Dominic Thiem completely off the pace.
Borna Crois E/W at 52.00*
The third seed, Alexander Zverev, stakes claim over a rather thin looking second quarter, although a straight sets defeat in the Mexican Open final to Kyrgios is a slight concern. Although neither John Millman nor Gregor Dimitrov are likely challenge the German, a scheduled fourth round with either Alex De Minaur or Milos Raonic could be testing.
The Aussie has 10 wins from his 12 matches since the start of the Sydney Open, only losing to Nadal in the Aussie Open and Zverev last week, whilst the Canadian reached the quarters of the opening Slam Down Under and has an impressive record at the Tennis Garden, reaching at least the semis in each of his last three visits.
Stefanos Tsitsipas became the first Greek player ever to break into the Top-10 this month after finishing runner-up in Dubai. He has potential third-round meeting with the ever-consistent Roberto Bautista Agut, but he did beat the Spaniard in his semi-final run in Melbourne.
A preferred route would be that of Kevin Anderson, with only clay court specialist Laslo Djere of any particular note in his run to the fourth round, but a niggling elbow injury is a worry.
Stefanos Tsitsipas E/W at 34.00*
Kei Nishikori has only three defeats to his name this season form his 15 matches, collecting the Brisbane title along the way. However, Australian Open semi-finalist Lucas Pouille is inbound for the Japanese superstar in the third round.
In fact, the top-half of this quarter is jam-packed full of talent with all of Taylor Fritz, Denis Shapovalov and Marin Cilic, so it’s difficult to make a confident call on who will advance.
The bottom-half sees Roger Federer looking comfortable up until his second match of the tournament that could see him up against one of two inform men – Marton Fucsovicsor Stan Wawrinka.
The former was runner-up at the Sofia Open as well as losing to Feds in the Quarters of Dubai last week, while Wawrinka was runner-up at Rotterdam as well as a last eight appearance in Mexico. Those three players stake a far greater claim than the likes of their potential misfiring fourth round opponents Kyle Edmund, Fabio Fognini and Frances Tiafoe.
Federer E/W at 6.25*
No doubt Tomas Berdychcan cause some problems like he did in Melbourne by reaching the fourth round as an unseeded player. Though he’ll have to get past Feliciano Lopez, Karen Khachanov and most probably Pablo Carreno Busta just to make the last-16.
Instead, John Isner looks much more appealing with him surrounded by much weaker company and a semi-final visit at Acapulco, only losing to eventual winner Kyrgios, is enough for us to be confident in him.
Rafa Nadal is presented with yet another easy draw at a big tournament this year and we would expect him to capitalise on it given the form he’s shown since returning from injury.
His competition comes in the shape of fellow clay specialist Diego Schwartzman and an out of touch David Goffin, though Danill Medvedev can’t be taken lightly.
The Russian could meet him in the fourth round and has 14 wins from his 18 matches this year, but is yet to properly challenge at a major event, with his recent fourth round at Melbourne Park his best result to date.
Isner to win the fourth quarter at 15.00*
Krygios was the man to knock Djokovic out here in 2017, making the Aussie two from two against him in his career. Couple that with a resurgence in form by winning in Mexico, his presence is enough to put us off the Serb at the prices.
The world no.1 may look fairly unbeatable over five sets but he has in fact lost three of his last 12 matches in the shorter version, so there is some potential value to be found in the bottom-half of his quarter.
Since the start of last year, Borna Coric has 21 wins from his 28 matches at both Grand Slam and Masters events on outdoor hard courts. His main danger is Basilashvili, but he has won his last three encounters with the Georgian.
This second quarter doesn’t feature any of the ‘Big Three’ so there is a great chance for someone to go on a run to at least the semis. Kevin Anderson had to withdraw from Mexico because of his elbow and that could open up the draw for Stefanos Tsitsipas.
The Greek sensation has made a fine start to the season, reaching the semis in Australia, as well as a title in Marseille and a runner-up spot in Dubai, and he can stamp his mark on California.
Although it’s not very adventurous, Roger Federer gets the nod given his draw and his recent win in Dubai. He is W23-L3 against his fellow countryman and likely third round opponent Wawrinka, and a record breaking sixth Indian Wells title could be on the way.
Finally, we have two fancies in this fourth quarter. A small punt on John Isner who should build some confidence and momentum into the fourth round.
The American won his maiden Masters title in Miami last year, which plays very similarly to here, and he looks far too big a price to squander.
The other pick is three-time champion Rafa Nadal. The slower conditions here in California certainly suits the Spaniard and in a similarly kind draw in Australia he breezed through to the final without dropping a set, so we’d be foolish to not have him in our armoury.
*all odds are subject to change